The US Air Force (USAF) has awarded a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II award to HTX Labs to continue the development of the HTX EMPACT virtual reality (VR) platform.

In April, HTX received an SBIR Phase I award from the USAF to develop training simulations built on the EMPACT platform.

The service plans to leverage the company’s platform to build highly immersive VR simulations within their education and training programmes.

The simulations are intended to enhance student ‘understanding, retention and mastery of military procedures and protocols’.

HTX Labs chief technology officer Chris Verret said: “We are very excited to collaborate with them on the next generation of EMPACT, and look forward to further developing our state-of-the-art VR training platform that will unlock an entirely new way to influence and analyse the human learning process.

“This is one of the many advantages of utilising virtual reality for training, and will be the catalyst to an infinite number of possibilities for measuring the effectiveness of corporate learning and development programmes.”

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The technology will be used to create immersive training content and then quantify the effectiveness of VR-enabled training simulations.

The objective of the training simulations is to enable trainers to have a benchmarking capability and time-lapse views of the student’s progress in training.

This involves the ability to measure a student’s physical performance against an expert or an entire student population.

Students will be analysed on the basis of hand movement, reaction time, eye movement, and user interactions among others.

Funding under the SBIR Phase II award will also be used for the development of multi-modal VR learning.

Under this, students will have a first-person view and a third-person view. In the first-person view, the student can ’embody the expert’ to practice through mimicking within VR.

The third-person view will only involve observing the expert within an immersive environment.